Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

6 February 2001

Table of Contents

Tumor Causing Plant Bacterium May Infect Humans
Davos essay: GM foods
Bacteria Transfer Genes to Human
GM lobby takes root in Bush's cabinet
Farmers, foreign markets send negative signals on Roundup Ready
New US 'mystery' corn viruses – is GM the prime suspect?
Two New Corn Viruses Discovered
New Scientist: The Greener Revolution
codominant Bt resistance of pink bollworm in cotton
RR soybeans and Yellowleaf mystery
Scientist points out possibility of Roundup Ready wheat crossing with goatgrass weed
bacteria to human gene transfer

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Date: 31 Jan 2001 09:42:19 -0600
From: joe jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Tumor Causing Plant Bacterium May Infect Humans

Emma Patten-Hitt REUTERS Health News Wednesday, 31 January 2001.

NEW YORK – A soil bacterium that causes lumpy tumors on plants may be able to 'jump kingdoms' and insert its tumor-causing DNA into human cells, new research findings suggest. The bacterium, called Agrobacterium tumefaciens, contains a small piece of DNA that can insert itself into the DNA of a host cell and initiate a tumor. Agrobacterium is already known to cause plant tumors, but researchers wanted to test whether the bacterium could similarly insert its DNA into human cells.

Dr. Vitaly Citovsky from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and colleagues found that the plant bacterium was able to attach to human cells and insert its DNA into human cells just as it does with plant cells. Whether Agrobacterium is dangerous to humans is unclear, however. "Here (insertion of DNA into) human cells has been observed in laboratory conditions; whether it may be relevant biologically in nature remains the researchers note in the current early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Citovsky told Reuters Health. "In nature, I do not believe Agrobacterium represents a danger. However, for people who work with large concentrations of this bacterium, for example researchers or certain agricultural workers who deal with heavily infected plants, it may be prudent to be careful or at he said.

One implication of this study, said Citovsky, is the potential for genetic flow between bacteria and animals. Another implication is that the basic biochemical and cellular reactions involved in the Agrobacterium-plant cell interaction probably exist in the animal kingdom as well.

"Presently, it appears that Agrobacterium is the only example of Citovsky said. "I do not rule out other possibilities but there are no data. Of course, what can be done once, can he added. SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition


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Date: 31 Jan 2001 11:33:01 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

Davos essay: GM foods

By Caroline Lambert Senior writer, eCountries http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ec/20010131/wl/davos_essay_gm_foods_1.ht....

The genetically modified food debate continued at Davos in such panels as "21st Century Food Fights" and "Should We BeFrightened By Food?" - but it won't end there, not by a long shot. The GM food debate is increasingly dividing public opinion – and countries. The potential of the new technology seems promising, but it's hard to know at what, if any, risk.

The debate over genetically modified (GM) organisms could look like an excuse for yet another trade battle between the US and Europe, joining the ranks of bananas and beef. The debate, however, spills far beyond bureaucrats' obscure negotiations into the realm of public opinion, food safety and environmental activism.

In Europe, concerns over GM food, together with the persistence of mad cow disease, are fueling increasing suspicion over what makes it onto dinner plates. Europe is familiar with scenes of activists trashing fields of GM crops, or trying to block ships suspected of containing GM corn or soybeans. Major food companies and supermarkets based in Europe, including Nestle and Marks and Spencer, have declared their intention to phase out the use of GM ingredients, while an increasing number of countries, from the EU area to Japan, have made labeling of GM food mandatory. That may yet convince the US – the world's leading GM food producer – to bring the issue to the WTO.

Why the fuss? Artificially inserting genes from the DNA of one organism into another is meant to produce crops which are naturally pestresistant or able to withstand herbicides. Genetic modification is also being used to enhance the nutritional qualities of rice by increasing levels of vitamin A and protein. Future applications could result in crops that are more drought tolerant.

According to GM supporters, this is great stuff. About 840m people - 13% of the global population – are facing empty plates, and malnutrition is estimated to kill 40,000 victims every day. GM food could be the answer. According to Monsanto, a major GM technology supplier, "biotechnology can improve how foods are grown to provide a more abundant food supply and to reduce the use of chemicals such as pesticides, thus making modern agriculture more environmentally friendly." As far as US authorities are concerned, there is nothing to worry about, as GM organisms are not substantially different from natural ones.

But for many environmental activists – and an increasing number of consumers – GM food promises to bring more problems than solutions. Microbiologist Isabelle Meister, who works on the Greenpeace international campaign against GM food, maintains that GM technology is imprecise and has unknown effects, which explains why the environmental group opposes the release of any type of GM organism in the environment. Future possible mutations are unpredictable, she says, and consumers are being used as guinea pigs. The British Medical Association seems to agree, pointing out there is no way to know at this stage what the health and environmental risks of GM food truly are. Concerns range from the disruption of ecosystems to the potential for allergic reactions and resistance to antibiotics.

Besides health and environmental question marks, GM food also raises concerns over food control. GM technology is patented and therefore subject to intellectual property rules and royalties. This means that the right to use GM seeds is strictly controlled by patent holders, and farmers are not allowed to use seeds from existing GM crops. This could be an expensive exercise for poorer countries, where saving seeds is common practice. This is why organizations such as the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) works with GM seed producers to supply developing countries with GM technology at cheaper prices.

Price, however, is not the only issue. GM technology is controlled by a handful of multinational companies, which raises concerns over the power they may enjoy over the food chain. According to Christian Aid, a worldwide charity, "ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops planted widely are the worst option for food security. " Yet, transgenic crops are increasingly popular, now covering 44.2m hectares worldwide. According to ISAAA, transgenic crops increased by 51% in developing countries last year, and 36% of world soybean crops are already transgenic.

Unfortunately, control mechanisms have not developed at the same pace. In September 2000, environmental NGO Friends of the Earth (FoE) revealed that StarLink GM corn, authorized in the US for animal feed but not for human consumption, had made its way into widely distributed taco shells. This triggered a recall, and a number of class actions are looming. FoE's Bill Freese says this was an accident waitingto happen. "Contamination of conventional corn with StarLink was an inevitable outcome of planting it. The [Environmental Protection Agency]'s belief that limiting the StarLink license to corn for animal feed and industrial use would be sufficient to keep the corn out of the food chain reveals a surprising ignorance of real world conditions on the farm," he says.

The US authorities' nonchalance is having consequences beyond the US market. The discovery of Starlink traces in corn shipments to Japan, where Starlink has not been approved even for animal feed, created a public outrage and resulted in a complete halt in shipments. In November 2000, FoE also identified the presence of non-approved GM corn in European food products.

Facing increasing pressure, national governments have been trying to find an appropriate regulatory framework. In January 2000, 150 governments adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, whose objective is to establish a transparent system for international GM food trade. Under the Protocol, governments will be able to choose whether or not to accept imports of GM organisms, and exporters will have to provide detailed information of their shipment and obtain authorization before releasing it. The EU has also reinforced its legislation related to labeling and tracing of GM food. These efforts are just the first steps of GM regulation – they probably won't be the last.


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Date: 1 Feb 2001 08:29:44 -0600
From: b1xqtq63 joseph.c@sympatico.ca

Bacteria Transfer Genes to Human

The paper below shows that Agrobacterium transfers genes to humans. Genetic Engineers should heed the laboratory safety of their technology. Mainly now they will hire students to do the dangerous work.

Published online before print January 30, 2001
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.041327598 Microbiology

Genetic transformation of HeLa cells by Agrobacterium

Talya Kunik*, [dagger ] , [Dagger ] , Tzvi Tzfira*, Yoram Kapulnik [dagger ] , Yedidya Gafni [dagger ] , Colin Dingwall [Dagger ] ,b, and Vitaly Citovsky*,x

* Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215; [dagger ] Institute of Field and Garden Crops, Agricultural Research Organization, P.O. Box 6, Bet-Dagan 50250, Israel; and [Dagger ] Department of Pharmacology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8651

Edited by Eugene W. Nester, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and approved December 8, 2000 (received for review July 13, 2000)

Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a soil phytopathogen that elicits neoplastic growths on the host plant species. In nature, however, Agrobacterium also may encounter organisms belonging to other kingdoms such as insects and animals that feed on the infected plants. Can Agrobacterium, then, also infect animal cells? Here, we report that Agrobacterium attaches to and genetically transforms several types of human cells.

In stably transformed HeLa cells, the integration event occurred at the right border of the tumor-inducing plasmid's transferred-DNA (T-DNA), suggesting bona fide T-DNA transfer and lending support to the notion that Agrobacterium transforms human cells by a mechanism similar to that which it uses for transformation of plants cells. Collectively, our results suggest that Agrobacterium can transport its T-DNA to human cells and integrate it into their genome.


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Date: 1 Feb 2001 10:24:51 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

GM lobby takes root in Bush's cabinet

By John Vidal, GM debate , The Guardian Thursday February 1, 2001

Biotech firms could have undue influence, say critics

When Bill Clinton was president, it was an open secret that his government favoured agricultural biotechnology and actively promoted it as a potential US global money-spinner.

But the strength of the genetically modified food lobby in George Bush's new cabinet, and its links with the GM global leader, Monsanto, are greater than anything that came before, it has emerged.

The secretaries of defence, health and agriculture, the attorney general and the chairman of the House agriculture committee all have links with the firm or the wider industry.

The most active GM advocate is expected to be John Ashcroft, the proposed attorney general, who received $10,000 (£6,800) from Monsanto in the recent elections, the most the company gave to any congressional candidate. Mr Ashcroft led calls to the Clinton administration to promote GM crops in developing countries and to persuade Europe to accept them.

If the appointment of Tommy Thompson, the former governor of Wisconsin, as secretary of health and human services is confirmed, he will be given overall responsibility for food safety, pharmaceuticals and the Food and Drug Administration, which licenses biotechnology in the US.

Mr Thompson is a GM supporter and has accepted money for his campaigns from Monsanto. He used state funds to set up a £200m biotech zone and was one of 13 state governors to launch a campaign, partly funded by Monsanto, to persuade Americans of the benefits of GM crops.

Ann Veneman, the new agriculture secretary, was a director of the GM company Calgene, now owned by Monsanto, and has been active in world trade talks which would favour US companies exporting GM crops to developing countries.

Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals when it was bought by Monsanto.

Larry Combest, a Texas Republican who will chair the powerful House of Representatives agriculture committee, received $2,000 from Monsanto in last year's elections. He is known as a strong supporter of GM food.

Clarence Thomas, the judge whose vote for Mr Bush in the supreme court helped decide the election, was a Monsanto lawyer from 1977 to 1979. His views on GM are not known.

Charles Lewis, director of the Centre for Public Integrity, said: "It looks like Monsanto and the biotechnology industry has the potential to bring undue influence on the new government."

A spokesman for the charity Christian Aid said: "This does not bode well. We should be proceeding cautiously with GM. We fear even greater pressure on poor countries to introduce the technology, to the detriment of poor farmers and consumers who may further lose control of their food security."

Loren Wassel, Monsanto's director of public relations, declined to comment yesterday.


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Date: 2 Feb 2001 05:02:45 -0600
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl
Farm News from Cropchoice http://www.cropchoice.com

Farmers, foreign markets send negative signals on Roundup Ready Wheat

Sections:
Contamination?
Montana and North Dakota legislatures

(February 1, 2001 – Cropchoice news) – The concerns are sprouting before Monsanto even introduces its newest batch of biotech – Roundup Ready wheat. They range from outright rejection by foreign markets that don't want it, to contamination of conventional varieties. The Montana and North Dakota legislatures have responded with bills that would place a moratorium on the sale and planting of genetically engineered wheat.

"As time goes on we will not necessarily be able to guarantee that conventional varieties can remain free of genetically modified material," said Todd Leake, who grows wheat on 1,300 acres in North Dakota. This could hurt farmers trying to grow conventional wheat for overseas markets that demand a product free of genetic modification.

"A lot of farmers would like to use Roundup Ready wheat because it would cut herbicide costs and be more convenient to spray on our crops and clean up fields," Leake said. "But with the increased technology fees for the seed, losing the right to propagate our own seed and having to purchase every bushel we plant, and especially losing our export markets, the tradeoffs are not in the favor of Roundup Ready wheat with a lot of growers."

Indeed, export markets are already sending negative signals ahead of Monsanto's introduction of its new crop.

Tsutomu Shigota, senior managing director of the Japan Flour Millers Association, earlier this month told Dow Jones: "Under the circumstances, I strongly doubt that any bakery and noodle products made from genetically modified wheat or even conventional wheat that may contain modified wheat will be accepted in the Japanese market. World wheat supply has been abundant in recent years, and I don't see why we have to deal with modified wheat...I believe the production of modified wheat at this time will be a very risky challenge for U.S. producers."

On Jan. 5, Algeria, which imports large amounts of durum wheat from the United States, announced that it would not import any genetically modified commodities. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are taking a similar tack.

Italians don't want genetically modified wheat, either. The website, www.infoexport.gc.ca, recently reported that "given the situation in Italy, with (leading farmers' group) Confagricoltura promising consumers to use only GM-free wheat, attention and effort should be directed to this subject."

Contamination?

Some farmers are concerned that genetically modified wheat will too easily cross-pollinate with conventional varieties.

"Once the seed stocks are grown out, this accelerates the process of GM crops ending up everywhere," said Leake, who also works with the Farmers Union and the Dakota Resource Council on wheat issues.

However, setting a 4.5 to 5-foot buffer (typical for wheat) between conventional and genetically altered varieties will greatly reduce, but not eliminate, cross pollination, said Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics at the University of California at Riverside. Purity, he noted, in this case equals 1 percent contamination.

Most contamination happens during seed processing, planting, harvesting and distribution of the crop, said Jane Rissler, a plant pathologist on staff at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C.

At the seed processing facility, employees might accidentally mix genetically modified and conventional seeds, or incorrectly label bags.

All harvesting equipment, trucks, and silos must be kept clean when trying to segregate genetically modified and conventional wheat. This, of course, is labor and time intensive.

"A farmer to the west of me didn't clean out his planting drill between planting of Roundup Ready soybeans and conventional soy," Leake said. "In the end, the entire crop was GM (genetically modified). This was enough to qualify him for a GM discount." In this case, discount is not a plus. It means that the elevator paid the farmer less for his soybeans because they were genetically engineered.

Ground contamination also plays a role, he said. Farmers who grow a genetically modified crop one season and a conventional variety the next would have a tough time guaranteeing that no remnants of the transgenic crop remain.

Canada's experience with canola further illustrates the nightmare of biotech crop contamination. Farmers first planted Roundup Ready canola in western Canada in 1995. Five years later, the entire Canadian canola crop was considered genetically modified, because of cross pollination and segregation problems, Leake said. Farmers lost money when they couldn't export the crop to many parts of the world.

To halt problems with genetically modified wheat before they begin, legislation is pending in the Montana and North Dakota legislatures.

Montana and North Dakota legislatures

A bill in the Montana State House of Representatives would place a moratorium on the production of genetically modified wheat. HB 211 reads as follows:

"1. Moratorium on production of genetically modified wheat.

(1) Genetically modified organisms may pose risks of unknown dimensions to Montana's economy, native environment, and agricultural industry. The planting of genetically modified crops over the past several years has outpaced our understanding of the immediate and long-term economic and environmental effects of genetically modified organisms. Because of these concerns, the legislature finds it appropriate to impose a moratorium on the production of genetically modified wheat.

(2) A person may not plant genetically modified wheat in Montana.

NEW SECTION. Section 2. Termination. [This act] terminates October 1, 2003."

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, legislators are considering a prohibition on the sale of genetically modified wheat seed until Aug. 1, 2003.

Leake thinks these measures are the least that government can do to help resolve the liability, segregation, technology agreement and market acceptance issues that likely will happen with biotech wheat just as they did with corn, soy and canola.

"As far as the chances for passage," Leake said, "we have a lot of support in North Dakota and Montana for this, but moratoriums are notoriously difficult to get enacted, and legislators are sometimes hesitant."

Monsanto did not return calls for its take on the story.

-------------------------------------------

This story sent to you from Cropchoice.com by user request. Visit http://www.cropchoice.com for more information. May be reproduced freely for non-commercial purposes and with appropriate credit.


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Date: 2 Feb 2001 12:41:20 -0600
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl
By davidb@uslink.net
Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org

New US 'mystery' corn viruses – is GM the prime suspect?

NLP Wessex, 29 January 2001
http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/NewUScornviruses.htm

Sections:
Georgia Unknown
Facts of the New Viruses
Absence of a Verified Explanation
USDA in 1997
New Scientist in 1997
R. Hull in 1998
Killer Viruses come Unexpected
New Scientist, Jan. 1001
Two New Corn Viruses

Georgia Unknown

What has caused these two new corn viruses – which continue to baffle crop scientists – to emerge simultaneously in the US (see Ohio State University report below)?

Back in 1994 when Calgene's GM Flavr Savr tomato was first commercialised Dr. Joseph Cummins, Professor Emeritus in genetics from the University of West-Ontario, Canada, warned the biotechnology community:

"Probably the greatest threat from genetically altered crops is the insertion of modified virus and insect virus genes into crops. It has been shown in the laboratory that genetic recombination will create highly virulent new viruses from such constructions. Certainly the widely used cauliflower mosaic virus [CaMV] is a potentially dangerous gene. It is a pararetrovirus meaning that it multiplies by making DNA from RNA messages. It is very similar to the Hepatitis B virus and related to HIV."

Facts of the New Viruses

What is 'interesting' now about the new corn viruses that have suddenly arrived in the US is that:

  1. One of them is considered to be a particular 'mystery' as it has the characteristics of a tomato virus, not a grain crop virus, and the other remains unidentified.

  2. The particular item of concern to Professor Cummins back in 1994 regarding the Flavr Savr tomato (see http://home1.swipnet.se/~w-18472/jccamvir.htm ) was its incorporation of a genetic sequence from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus.

    This material is now used in most types of GM crops (i.e.those incorporating recombinant DNA) that have already been approved for commercial use, including corn varieties grown in the US. The material is in a novel form which allows it to operate in a wide range of host genetic environments which otherwise would not be possible in its natural state.

    The question arises as to whether the widespread use of this promiscuous viral element could contribute to the creation of some kind of pathogenic bridge, BSE style, between different plant viruses and their host species.

  3. Is it a coincidence that two new corn viruses should emerge simultaneously a short time after the introduction of GM corn and other crops incorporating the CaMV promoter?

    Professor Cummins has subsequently cited an alarming list of references documenting the phenomenon of 'viral recombination' arising with such transgenic constructs (see: http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/NewsMar-Apr99/GEN4-24JoeVirusMonsn..... ).

    The UK's leading plant biotechnology laboratory, the John Innes Centre, has since published research confirming that the CaMV promoter has a 'recombination hotspot'. According to the John Innes Centre Annual Report 1998/99, p 22-23:

    "Transgene rearrangements often occur at regions rich in DNA secondary structure, such as the CAMV 35S promoter, which can form the cruciform structure shown above. This allows recombination to occur......"

  4. It is clear that plant pathologists in the US don't know what is going on with the arrival of these two new corn viruses despite 18 months work on at least one of them.

  5. If a GM linkage were to be found with the new corn viruses would the authorities dare tell us or would the discovery get the 'Pusztai' treatment (despite calls from the Royal Society to do so, no-one has ever dared try and repeat Dr Pusztai's experiment on the recombinant DNA potatoes concerned in case it confirmed what Dr Pusztai had concluded)?

    In this context it is worth remembering that George W. Bush's new Agriculture Secretary, Ann Veneman, was previously a director of the Californian biotechnology company, Calgene, which developed the Flavr Savr tomato – the first commercial recombinant DNA crop to incorporate the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus promoter (for more details on Veneman's agri-trade background see: http://www.calbar.org/2sec/3bus/4agri/data.htm ).

Absence of a Verified Explanation

Meanwhile concerns regarding the unknown causes of the new corn viruses in the US can only be based on speculation at this stage in the absence of a verified explanation.

Nonetheless, in accordance with the precautionary principle, it is worth considering the reflections of other scientists on the possibility of the creation of new diseases through the introduction into the environment of recombinant DNA organisms (RDOs) which incorporate transgenic viral sequences:

USDA in 1997

"..... At a meeting in Washington DC last week, the US Department of Agriculture outlined possible restrictions aimed at reducing the risk of creating harmful new plant viruses [despite this meeting being held back in 1997 these restrictions have not since been implemented to the best of our knowledge: NLPWessex] .....

These include a possible limit on the length of genetic sequences introduced into crop plants and the banning of genes that make functional proteins. The department is also worried about particularly high-risk sequences, such as those that trigger the process of viral replication.

Advocates of the technology argue that there is no evidence that recombination – swapping genetic material between viruses – will produce dangerous hybrid viruses....

The technology's proponents claim that if recombination were likely, new hybrid viruses would be turning up all the time."

New Scientist in 1997

New Scientist magazine, 16 August 1997: 'Field of genes: They have the biotechnology, but it may be running out of control, and the US is starting to worry'

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- - ----------

".......The area of concern specific to viral transgenes is the potential risks on any interactions between the viral or virus-related sequences being expressed from the transgene and another virus superinfecting that plant.....

Three sorts of recombination have been recognized (20): homologous with crossovers between related RNAs at precisely matched sites, aberrant homologous with crossovers between related RNAs not at corresponding sites, and nonhomologous with crossovers between unrelated RNAs at noncorresponding sites.

There is considerable evidence for extensive recombination in RNA viruses (see refs. 20 and 21 for details), and probably all three mechanisms have been involved at one time or another. It is generally considered that recombination plays an important role in the evolution of RNA viruses (see refs. 20-23).....................

All the experimentation on recombinants between plant virus sequences has been done in controlled laboratory situations. It is difficult to devise detailed protocols for the detection of recombinants produced in the field...........

For small-scale releases, it is relatively easy to design monitoring procedures ......... for detecting heteroencapsidants or recombinants. This will be much more difficult, if not impossible, for large-scale releases, in which the approach should be to educate farmers and extension service personel to identify any unusual event that might be associated with transgenic plants. This will be the challenge for the future."

R. Hull in 1998

Hull R. (1998) 'Detection of risks associated with coat protein transgenics'. In: Methods in Molecular Biology: Plant Virology Protocols: from Virus Isolation to Transgenic Resistance (Eds: Foster G.D., Taylor S.C.). New Jersey, Humana Press Inc. 81, 574-555.

Killer Viruses come Unexpected

"FIVE years ago, New Scientist asked biomedical researchers if they thought genetic engineering could make a virus or bacterium more virulent than nature's worst. They replied that it would be difficult if not impossible, and would need a colossal research effort. Now it's clear they forgot one thing – the unexpected.

Adding the gene turned a merely nasty virus into a killer......

There's also the problem that many biologists choose to ignore biotechnology's threats. New Scientist has found that neither researchers nor biological societies are keen to discuss the misuse of genetic engineering – not least because they fear a backlash against their work. But this attitude must change or biologists will find themselves sidelined when the first really dangerous incident takes place.

......leaving things as they are is not an option. Biotechnology is beginning to show an evil grin. Unless we wipe that smile from its face, we'll live to regret it".

New Scientist, Jan. 1001

New Scientist magazine, 13 January 2001: 'The genie is out. Biotech has just sprung a nasty surprise. Next time, it could be catastrophic' - – editorial on the creation of a new more virulent virus by mistake by genetic engineers which wiped out laboratory mice in Australia.

Two New Corn Viruses

Finally, special thanks to US farmer Jim Winiger for drawing the discovery of the two new corn viruses to our attention, and of course to Professor Cummins for his continuing forthright efforts to draw the world's attention to viral risks associated with RDOs.

For more on the particular risks associated with the use of the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus promoter in corn and other GM crops see: www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/camv.htm .

Meanwhile what about the second corn virus – "Georgia Unknown" – that remains unidentified, but which causes disease symptoms characteristic of mosaic viruses?

NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
nlpwessex@bigfoot.com    http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex

"There is no scientific proof that BSE can be transmitted to man by beef"

National Farmers Union of England and Wales, 1996


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Date: 2 Feb 2001 12:41:20 -0600
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl
By davidb@uslink.net
Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org
NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX   nlpwessex@bigfoot.com    http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex

November 21, 2000

Two New Corn Viruses Discovered

By Candace Pollock, (330) 202-3550
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Source: Peg Redinbaugh (330) 263-3965   redinbaugh.2@osu.edu
http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~ohioline/news/11_00/11_21_04.html

Sections:
Ohioline news article
NLPWessex comment
Scientific Reference

Ohioline news article

WOOSTER, OH – Ohio State University researchers have discovered two new corn viruses, one of which remains to be identified.

Researchers at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and the USDA have isolated, identified and characterized a virus known as maize necrotic streak virus, based on the symptoms it incites. The findings were published in the October issue of Plant Disease.

Although there have been no recorded reports of the disease and it may not pose a problem for Ohio corn growers, the researchers are taking preventive measures to ensure farmers are well educated.

"We want farmers to know that this virus exists and we are working to make sure that it is never a problem with crops," said Peg Redinbaugh, research plant molecular biologist. Redinbaugh is part of a joint program between OARDC and USDA scientists dedicated to tracking the emergence of corn diseases worldwide. The group, based at OARDC, is responsible for analyzing maize viruses throughout the United States and around the world.

It is estimated that crop losses from maize viruses range between 5-15 percent annually in the U.S. Diseases are responsible for reduction in yield, as well as affecting grain and seed quality.

Maize necrotic streak virus was discovered after the researchers analyzed corn crops from Arizona suspected of being infected with maize dwarf mosaic virus, a disease that has caused severe crop losses throughout the U.S. Further analysis revealed the new virus, characterized by pale green, yellow, or cream-colored streaks on the leaves, which eventually become translucent and necrotic around the edges.

But in some respects, the virus still remains a mystery. It falls into a family of viruses that infect tomatoes and peppers, not grain crops, said Redinbaugh. In the 18 months of studying the virus, researchers have yet to nail down specific vectors of transmission.

"Diseases don't get from plant to plant without some sort of help, whether it be an insect, nematode, or fungus," said Redinbaugh. "Using three different techniques we've only been able to transmit the virus through the soil. And we don't know what's in the soil that transmits the virus." Most plant diseases are transmitted via an insect. The researchers used several common crop insects, such as the corn root aphid, green peach aphid, potato aphid, oat bird cherry aphid, corn leafhopper, black-faced leafhopper, corn planthopper and western rootworm to spread the disease from one plant sample to another. But none of the insects proved to be a vector of transmission. The researchers also attempted to transmit the virus by rubbing healthy leaves with the disease, without success.

Redinbaugh said that the difficulty in transmission might be what keeps the virus at bay. "It may not be a big problem if it's not easily transmitted in nature," she said. "If the virus primarily is transmitted through the soil, like we think, then it could be just a local problem."

Redinbaugh said the researchers have found one corn line that is resistant to maize necrotic streak virus, but the tropical line is not well adapted to Ohio soil. She said molecular markers are currently being developed in the hopes that resistant Ohio corn lines may be identified.

Researchers have also discovered a second corn virus, which has yet to be identified. First discovered in Georgia, Redinbaugh said the virus has similar symptoms to several corn diseases including maize mosaic virus, maize chlorotic dwarf mosaic virus and maize rayado fino, so it can be easily misdiagnosed. Insects, namely planthoppers and leafhoppers, easily transmit those diseases.

"The Georgia unknown could be a problem if it's transmitted by insects, like the other viruses are," said Redinbaugh. Studies have yet to determine if an insect like the planthopper transmits the unknown virus, but Redinbaugh determines that the virus may not be a likely Ohio invader due to the insect's restricted southern U.S. geographical area. Studies on the "Georgia unknown" are ongoing.

Other researchers involved in the studies include OARDC researchers Ray Louie, Don Gordon, Dave Fulton, Bill Styer and Saskia Hogenhout and USDA OSU-based researchers John Abt, Robert Anderson and Kristen Willie.

NLPWessex comment

Below is the scientific reference quoted in the Ohio State University article. Although we are not able to comment at this type of technical level, particularly as it is new territory, the following observation has been made to us on this subject:

"The Tombus virus group does tend to take up sequences, possibly from mRNA. In CaMV replication two kinds of RNA are passed from nucleus to cytoplasm; the RNA template for virus replication into DNA and processes messages to make viral capsid. Either could provide sequences for the Tombus virus".

Scientific Reference

Plant Disease October 2000 Volume 84, Number 10, p 1133 – 1139

Maize necrotic streak virus, a New Maize Virus with Similarity to Species of the Family Tombusviridae.

  • Raymond Louie and M. G. Redinbaugh, USDA-ARS, Corn and Soybean Research, Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, Wooster 44691;
  • D. T. Gordon, Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University;
  • and J. J. Abt and R. J. Anderson, USDA-ARS, Corn and Soybean Research, Department of Plant Pathology and Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University.

    Accepted for publication 28 June 2000.

    Developing knowledge of exotic or emerging virus diseases of corn before they become epidemic allows researchers to devise disease control strategies for the corn seed industry and producers. We examined corn leaf samples, thought to be infected with Maize chlorotic dwarf virus (MCDV), collected in Arizona.

    Although no MCDV was found in the samples, two other viruses were identified: Maize dwarf mosaic virus and a second virus that had not previously been characterized. The new virus produced severe symptoms on corn that included pale green, yellow, or cream-colored spots and streaks. As disease developed, the spots and streaks became spindle-shaped, then coalesced into long, chlorotic bands that became translucent and necrotic around the edges.

    The stalks developed a chlorosis that became necrotic. These distinctive symptoms were the basis for the naming the pathogen Maize necrotic streak virus (MNeSV). It could be transmitted using a specialized technology known as "vascular puncture inoculation", but not by leaf-rub inoculation or any of the insects tested. MNeSV had a small isometric particle, high titer in infected leaves, and a genomic structure similar to viruses in the family Tombusviridae. Researchers, extension specialists, and producers can confirm the identity of MNeSV in field samples using a serological assay developed in this study.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: 3 Feb 2001 06:19:24 -0600
    From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

    New Scientist: The Greener Revolution

    New Scientist, February 3, 2001
    http://www.newscientist.com/editorial/editorial_227629.html

    It sounds, according to this editorial, like an environmentalist's dream. Low-tech "sustainable agriculture," shunning chemicals in favour of natural pest control and fertiliser, is pushing up crop yields on poor farms across the world, often by 70 per cent or more. But, the story says, it's no dream, and is in fact the claim being made in the biggest ever survey of green-minded farming.

    The findings will make sobering reading for people convinced that only genetically modified crops can feed the planet's hungry in the 21st century. The gains are greatest among poor farmers. This is not surprising. The high-tech green revolution that has doubled global food production in little more than a generation was always designed for big mechanised farms on the best land, using capital to buy pesticides and fertilisers the new high-yielding plant varieties need. It was never a blueprint for working the poorer land, or helping illiterate farmers with plenty of labour and ingenuity but little capital. The story says that the survey shows a new science-based revolution is gaining strength built on real research into what works best on the small farms where a billion or more of the world's hungry live and work.

    For some, talk of "sustainable agriculture" sounds like a luxury the poor can ill afford. But in truth it is good science, addressing real needs and delivering real results. For too long it has been the preserve of environmentalists and a few aid charities. It is time for the major agricultural research centres and their funding agencies to join the revolution.


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    Date: 3 Feb 2001 08:30:42 -0600
    From: Joe jcummins@uwo.ca

    codominant Bt resistance of pink bollworm in cotton

    The article below puts the refuge strategy into question. The article shows that when low levels of Bt cry 1 toxin are produced in transgenic cotton the inheritance pattern is codominant and as somewhat higher toxin levels are produced in cotton the inheritance shows weak codominance.

    Only crops that produce high levels of toxin show the recessive inheritance that makes the refuge work.Codominant cry 1 inheritance makes the refuge an accelerator for spreading the resistance gene. Refuge has been taken to heart by government bureaucrats and many environment groups opposing GM crops. Five years ago I began to point out that refuge had an achilles heal and that defect was dominant or codominant resistance! Blind and unthinking adherence to dogma is very unwise, particularly in the world of GM crops.

    Much more efforts should be spent studying the inheritance of resistance to Bt in crop pests and to think of stopping the planting of GM crops where codominant inheritance is detected.


    Journal of Economic Entomology, February 2001, p. 248-252 Vol. 94, No. 1

    Genetics of Pink Bollworm Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis Toxin Cry1Ac

    Yong-Biao Liu, Bruce E. Tabashnik, Susan K. Meyer, Yves Carriere, and Alan C. Bartlett1

    Department of Entomology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721

    Abstract

    Laboratory selection increased resistance of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) to the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin Cry1Ac. Three selections with Cry1Ac in artificial diet increased resistance from a low level to >100-fold relative to a susceptible strain. We used artificial diet bioassays to test F1 hybrid progeny from reciprocal crosses between resistant and susceptible strains.

    The similarity between F1 progeny from the two reciprocal crosses indicates autosomal inheritance of resistance. The dominance of resistance to Cry1Ac depended on the concentration. Resistance was codominant at a low concentration of Cry1Ac, partially recessive at an intermediate concentration, and completely recessive at a high concentration. Comparison of the artificial diet results with previously reported results from greenhouse bioassays shows that the high concentration of Cry1Ac in bolls of transgenic cotton is essential for achieving functionally recessive inheritance of resistatance.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: 5 Feb 2001 10:44:42 -0600
    From: geno@zap.a2000.nl
    Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org
    By Bill Johnson blilliston@iatp.org

    Bill Johnson is a state extension weed scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

    RR soybeans and Yellowleaf mystery

    Bumper Crop Basics: Yellow Leaf Mystery Solved

    Bill Johnson, Farm Progress – Monday, February 5, 2001

    Soybean leaves can yellow under stress from a variety of sources. During the past few growing seasons, many Missouri growers wanted to know why new leaves in glyphosate-tolerant soybean plants turned yellow after application of Roundup. They saw the effect, to varying degrees – the leaf surface turns yellow but remains darker green along the veins.

    The yellowing occurs because some varieties have less tolerance to glyphosate than others. Glyphosate-tolerant soybeans (such as Roundup Ready and other varieties) contain a gene to give them tolerance to glyphosate herbicides, but the presence of this gene does not mean that glyphosate will not cause crop injury.

    When Monsanto developed Roundup Ready technology, it required seed companies to prescreen varieties for tolerance to glyphosate to assure the plants would survive a specific dose of the product. Meeting these requirements was one stipulation for the variety to be sold as Roundup Ready. Still, all varieties are not created equal. Crop response to the chemical will be more evident in some varieties.

    Additionally, if the crop is under stress from disease, insect feeding, nematodes, drought, excessive rainfall or injury from other herbicides, it will not be able to metabolize glyphosate as quickly and will show injury symptoms. The 2000 growing season offered challenging conditions for soybeans from the beginning. Extremely dry weather early, followed by abundant moisture, produced all of the above-listed stress factors. In particular, the wet weather experienced in late June caused saturated soils across much of Missouri. Many postemergence herbicide applications were delayed because dry weather reduced weed emergence before the rains. When spray applications were made after the rains, beans were stressed from wet soils and weeds were large.

    Therefore, many applicators increased the rate of glyphosate or added a tankmix partner to control large weeds. As a result of adding another stress to the crop, yellow beans were seen in many fields.

    Although the presence of crop response to glyphosate may cause concern, keep in mind that it is transitory in nature and usually not present by 10 to 14 days after application unless beans are under additional stresses.

    If two to four trifoliates are affected and the plant continues to grow normally, there will not be an effect on yield. We have observed much more severe damage to soybeans with diphenyl ether herbicides (Cobra, Blazer, Reflex) in the past and have not seen a significant effect on yield. Response to glyphosate is minor in comparison.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: 5 Feb 2001 16:44:59 -0600
    From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

    Scientist points out possibility of Roundup Ready wheat crossing with goatgrass weed

    Farm News from Cropchoice
    An alternative news service for American farmers
    http://www.cropchoice.com

    (February 5, 2001 – Cropchoice news) – As European markets warn farmers not to plant Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat because they'll reject it, a California scientist has something else farmers should consider.

    It's a weed called goatgrass.

    Goatgrass is a wild relative of wheat, says Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics at the University of California at Riverside. He noted a case in which researchers in the Pacific Northwest crossed herbicide resistant wheat (achieved through traditional hybridization) and goatgrass. The resulting wheat-goatgrass hybrid was highly, though NOT totally, sterile.

    If some of the children of this now herbicide resistant weed were to backcross with wild goatgrass, Ellstrand says, "we expect that the herbicide resistant gene would spread through the population."

    Were the Roundup Ready-resistant gene to show up in goatgrass, he says, wheat growers would have a problem. They couldn't use Roundup. Instead, they'd have to apply more expensive or more environmentally noxious herbicides. What's more, neighboring farmers who are growing a different crop and using Roundup would face problems if the resistant goatgrass spread into their fields.

    Tom Nickson, director of Monsanto's Ecological Technology Center, calls this an oversimplified analysis.

    The company is working with researchers at the University of Idaho and Oregon State University to understand the likelihood and consequence of gene flow from Roundup Ready wheat to goatgrass, Nickson says.

    "Jointed goatgrass is only one-third genetically similar to wheat," he says. "Depending on which chromosome in the wheat the gene (herbicide resistant) is located, the likelihood of that gene becoming part of goatgrass could be effectively zero."

    -------------------------------------------
    This story sent to you from Cropchoice.com by user request. Visit http://www.cropchoice.com for more information. May be reproduced freely for non-commercial purposes and with appropriate credit.

    ----------------
    Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand, (9) 524 2949


    Top PreviousFront Page

    Date: 5 Feb 2001 18:11:21 -0600
    From: joe jcummins@uwo.ca

    bacteria to human gene transfer

    Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a bacterium that causes tumors to appear on the stems of infected plants. The bacterium causes the tumors by transferring genes to the cells of the infected plants from a tumor inducing plasmid.

    To insure DNA transfer the plamid has virulence genes that determine attachment to cells and DNA transfer (T-DNA) to the plant cell. The transferred DNA is integrated into essentially random (no apparent sequence bias) DNA in the plant chromosomes and normally add bacterial genes stimulating plant tumor cell growth. In crop genetic manipulation (GM) the tumor growth stimulating genes are replaced by genes for antibiotic tolerance markers, plant viral promoter and genes for desired crop traits such as herbicide tolerance. The abstract below shows that T-DNA can be transferred to the chromosomes of human cancer cells.

    Abstract:

    Published online before print January 30, 2001 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.041327598

    Genetic transformation of HeLa cells by Agrobacterium

    Talya Kunik, Tzvi Tzfira, Yoram Kapulnik , Yedidya Gafni , Colin Dingwall and Vitaly Citovsky

    Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a soil phytopathogen that elicits neoplastic growths on the host plant species. In nature, however, Agrobacterium also may encounter organisms belonging to other kingdoms such as insects and animals that feed on the infected plants.

    Can Agrobacterium, then, also infect animal cells? Here, we report that Agrobacterium attaches to and genetically transforms several types of human cells. In stably transformed HeLa cells, the integration event occurred at the right border of the tumor-inducing plasmid's transferred-DNA (T-DNA), suggesting bona fide T-DNA transfer and lending support to the notion that Agrobacterium transforms human cells by a mechanism similar to that which it uses for transformation of plants cells. Collectively, our results suggest that Agrobacterium can transport its T-DNA to human cells and integrate it into their genome.

    Our comment:

    The paper above shows that human cancer cells along with neuron and kidney cells were transformed with the Agrobacterium T-DNA. Such observations should raise alarm for those who use Agrobacterium in the laboratory. The integrated T-DNA will certainly act as a mutagen as it integrates into human chromosomes.

    Cancer genes are both dominant and recessive(genes that suppress cancer development). Integration of the T-DNA into recessive oncogene would certainly greatly increase cancer risk in the transformed cells of the laboratory worker. Furthermore, the sequences born by the transforming bacterium can be expressed in the transformed cells ( the viral promoter CaMV has been found to be active in HeLa cells) and constructions currently being tested include pharmaceutically active human genes such as the interleukines.

    For the most part transforming Agrobacteria are valuable assets and, as such, some care is given to preventing careless release of the bacteria. Nevertheless, it is clear that little has been done to prevent environmental escape of transforming bacteria.

    In conclusion, a study of cancer incidence among those exposed to Agrobacterium tumefaciens in the laboratory and in the field is needed. It would be worthwhile to screen workers DNA for T-DNA sequences.